In a letter Thursday to Vice President Mike Pence, who chairs the White House Coronavirus Task Force, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson called on the federal government to address the building stress and challenges facing the nation's pork producers.
"Because of COVID-19, many of America's pork producers have no access to processing and have no choice but to depopulate their herds," wrote Peterson, calling on the vice president to marshal a "robust federal response to address this dire situation."
Specifically, Peterson urged the vice president to direct the task force to:
- Coordinate between all involved federal, state and local governments to provide urgent assistance to impacted farmers
- Develop standards for humane euthanasia and disposal of impacted animals as well as outreach on existing financial and technical assistance resources available to producers
- Provide flexibility to use all available state and federal processing capacity to the maximum extent possible to minimize supply chain disruption
- Issue federal guidance on best practices to prevent COVID-19 transmission in plants
- Provide access to adequate COVID-19 testing for plant workers and communities
- Provide sufficient personal protective equipment for all plant workers and federal meat inspectors
- Develop resources and conduct outreach to help farmers deal with added stress during this difficult time
- Utilize any other means at the task force's disposal to support farmers, processing plant workers, and plant communities.
"Without fast action and clear coordination, this situation will only get worse, not just for pork producers but for other livestock and poultry producers as well," Peterson added.